Candidates Look for Votes Across the Nation

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    By Erica Teichert

    Super Tuesday. Tsunami Tuesday. The Tuesday of Destiny.

    No matter what you call it, Feb. 5 is the most important day of the 2008 election cycle, save for Nov. 4.

    Twenty-four states, including Utah, hold primaries and caucuses today. Overall, 52 percent of the pledged Democrat delegates and 41 percent of the Republican delegates of this election cycle are at stake.

    According to CNN, Sen. John McCain leads the Republican race with 97 delegates compared to Gov. Mitt Romney”s 92. In the Democrat race, Sen. Barack Obama has an advantage over Sen. Hillary Clinton with 63 delegates to her 48. But with over 3,000 delegates at stake, anything can happen.

    Out of the 21 Republican contests today, 13 are winner-take-all, similar to last week”s Florida primary. In the latest primary polls, McCain has a substantial lead over Romney, his prime opponent.

    McCain has enjoyed many key endorsements from political leaders, newspapers, and even former fellow candidates, such as Rudy Giuliani. After Wednesday”s CNN debate, McCain also received an endorsement from California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

    However, many conservative pundits feel McCain is a “Republican in Name Only.” Ann Coulter, a prominent conservative writer, announced on Friday that she would vote for Clinton before McCain.

    “John McCain is not only bad for Republicanism, which he definitely is – he is bad for the country,” Coulter said on Fox News” Hannity and Colmes.

    Though polls have shown Romney has substantial support in Utah, Colorado, and Massachusetts, winning other big states like California and New York will be an uphill battle. Rasmussen polls show McCain and Romney in a dead heat in California, but McCain is ahead by a 19-point margin in New York.

    As the days wound down towards Super Tuesday, McCain and Romney used different strategies. As McCain focused on winner-take-all states, Romney honed in on states with proportional representation such as California, Georgia and Illinois.

    Friday”s SurveyUSA polls in Massachusetts give Clinton a commanding 24-point lead over Obama. But Clinton is struggling to keep up with Obama in the South. With Edwards out of the Democrat race, the pressure is on Obama to peel votes away from Clinton”s commanding lead.

    The biggest contests today are in California, New York, and Illinois, each with hundreds of delegates. For the Democrats, two of these states are the candidates” home turf: Illinois for Obama and New York for Clinton. Both states can be expected to hand their hometown heroes decisive victories.

    As students anticipate the results, many are dissatisfied with frontrunners McCain and Clinton. Kasey Beck, a BYU student and former Romney campaign employee, has grown frustrated with the growing divide in the Republican Party. As the race continues, he finds himself searching for a potential third-party candidate.

    “I would vote for the Libertarian candidate to send a clear message to my party leaders,” Beck said. “Republicans need to turn more toward libertarianism than liberalism. This is a battle of ideas, and putting a moderate Republican in office will send the wrong message that candidates can win by being liberal.”

    So far, Ralph Nader, the 2000 and 2004 Green Party candidate, and Michael Bloomberg, the current mayor of New York City, are speculated to run as third-party candidates in the 2008 election.

    Still, optimism runs high in all candidates” corners. Many will continue their campaigns far beyond Super Tuesday. But today has the potential to decide everything.

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